The following is a guest post from Nicholae Cline (IU Libraries Scholarly Services and Media Studies Librarian) as part of the IU Arts and Humanities Council Indiana Remixed programming.
There is often an attitude of detachment from your home state, an approach to the place of your upbringing that is sometimes constituted by disinterest in its history even if lived experience is structured by lineages of many kinds. For those of you born in Indiana, perhaps you felt this growing up in a state often overlooked in general primary and secondary school social studies. This project aims to change that for ourselves, and hopefully for you as well. In compiling this list of great Indiana recordings by legendary Indiana artists, we have set out to draw connections from the Hoosier state’s musical past to its present and explore the many ways artists from the state situate themselves into national (and even global) musical movements.
Before talking about the music, it will be important to talk about the process. In deciding what to define as “Indiana music,” we drew from a number of lists and articles, some linked on this page. Generally, the artists here will have been born in or lived a significant amount of their lives in Indiana (at least five years). We have tried our best to limit the song selection to recordings produced in Indiana, showcasing the sound of legendary Indiana recording studios and producers. We have also worked within the parameters of “contemporary music,” defined as spanning from the 1920s to the 2020s.
For further exploration, we have compiled three regional spotlights, highlighting what we suggest are key musical well springs in Indiana history. In closely examining the musical history of Gary, Indianapolis, and Bloomington, Indiana, we can observe consistent communities of artists and musicians carrying the torch of Hoosier music into the new decade across a wide spectrum of genres, including blues, jazz, country, rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, and electronic music. Though Indiana itself hosts artists from its small towns to its large cities, it is these three localities that stand out over the last century.
There will undoubtedly be many artists we missed, because, as we’ve learned, Indiana’s musical history is much larger than ever imagined. As we move into the new decade, Indiana artists continue to produce exciting contributions to the genres and movements they situate themselves in, and if anything we hope these playlists prove that this has been the case for Indiana for the past century.
To dive in, check out our “master” playlist, with music from the entire series:
Resources for Further Exploration
100 Best Hoosier Albums Ever – Nuvo list of best albums made in or by Indiana artists
Musical Family Tree – online index of Indiana music
Record Labels of Indiana – index of Indiana record labels, from the 1950s-’70s
Cultural Manifesto – podcast from Nuvo columnist Kyle Long, with episodes on Amnesty, 700 West Studios, and many other Indiana musical legends
Riverwalk Jazz – article on Gennett Records, a blues and jazz label from Richmond, Indiana
Thanks to the entire Indiana Remixed @ Wells team for their contributions to and support with this work, especially the inimitable Brett Hoffman (one of our Arts & Humanities Library Assistants).